Over 20,000 votes by NARA staff on possible budget reductions
Recognition of the important role of citizen archivists
We’ve made a great start, but we have a lot more to do if we are to be well-positioned to meet the challenges we face in the 21st century.
It’s time for us to step out of our comfort zones and rethink how we operate as an agency.
A few months ago, I charged a task force to draft a plan for agency transformation. A draft plan was circulated internally for staff input. I’d like to thank the NARA staff who submitted hundreds of thoughtful comments on the proposed plan. Their insight was indispensable in the development of the final report.
Last week their final report, “A Charter for Change,” was issued to staff. The report outlines a new organizational model for the National Archives. These organizational changes are driven by a set of guiding principles. These are the pillars of how we … [ Read all ]
Recently, I read an article and book by Charlene Li, an expert on social media and former analyst and vice president at Forrester Research. In the book, Open Leadership: How Social Technology Can Transform the Way You Lead, she states that greater openness in organizations is inevitable and is a consequence of the increasing use of social media.
As your customers and employees become more adept at using social and other emerging technologies, they will push you to be more open, urging you to let go in ways in which you may not be comfortable. Your natural inclination may be to fight this trend, to see it as a fad that you hope will fade and simply go away. It won’t. Not only is this trend inevitable, but it also is going to force you and your organization to be more open than you are today.
It’s evident that social media is breaking down barriers to communication and empowering citizens and employees to speak their minds freely. Broadcasting our opinions, views, and expressing our personality, is simple and easy on blogs, Facebook, and Twitter. Li describes this new reality as a “period of fundamental social change akin to the rise of the automobile or the introduction of television.”
Her prescription for managing this new reality is “open leadership,” which means “having the confidence and … [ Read all ]
On July 26, we will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Federal Register Act by launching Federal Register 2.0. In a special event in the Rotunda of the National Archives, I will be joined by the Public Printer of the United States and distinguished guests from regulatory agencies and the open government community to introduce the web 2.0 version of the daily Federal Register.
What is the Federal Register?
The Federal Register is the legal newspaper of the U.S. government and contains rules, proposed rules, and public notices of federal agencies, as well Presidential documents. It’s an important, crucial part of our democracy. The Office of the Federal Register is a component of the National Archives and Records Administration.
Have you ever tried to find something in the Federal Register?
As you might expect, the Federal Register is dense and difficult to read whether in print or online as a PDF. It’s also difficult to find what you’re looking for.
Federal Register 2.0 takes into consideration the 21st century user and turns the Federal Register website into a daily web newspaper. The clear layout will have tools to help users find what they need, comment on proposed rules, and share material relevant to their interests. In addition to greatly improved navigation and search tools, the site will highlight the most popular and newsworthy documents and … [ Read all ]
Since June 2009, the National Archives has made videos available on its YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/usnationalarchives. We now have 292 videos available, which have been viewed over 160,000 times. Most videos are from our archival collections, including some from Presidential Libraries. Other videos represent current lectures and educational events. I hope you take some time to explore the videos and let me know your favorites. Here are my top ten videos:
10. Fourth of July at the National Archives – Montage. Check out the National Archives float, new logo, and all of the activities at this year’s celebration.
9. We Were There When Nixon Met Elvis – January 25, 2010. This is fascinating discussion with those who were present when Elvis Presley came to the White House on December 21, 1970.
8. Carl Lewis – 1987. This is a powerful short clip from a longer video created by the U.S. Information Agency.
7. Space for Women – 1981. This video features interviews with women and shows the variety of positions they hold at NASA.
6. Who’s Out There – 1975. Orson Welles narrates this NASA video exploring the possibility and implications of extraterrestrial live.
5. Harry S. Truman – The Lobster Story. President Truman tells an amusing campaign story involving a lobster.
4. The March, Part 2 of 3. This video from the U.S. … [ Read all ]
If you’re reading this, the following statistic from a recent Pew Internet report applies to you:
Fully 82% of internet users (representing 61% of all American adults) looked for information or completed a transaction on a government website in the previous twelve months.
It probably doesn’t surprise you that increasingly Americans are relying on the internet for access to government information. More and more this is taking the form of social media tools like blogs, social networking sites, and services like Twitter or text messaging. While the social nature of this type of engagement makes the tone more informal, it does not indicate that the engagement is trivial.
In the same Pew Internet report, three-quarters (79%) agree with the statement that having the ability to follow and communicate online with government using social media tools “helps people be more informed about what the government is doing,” while 74% agree that it “makes government agencies and officials more accessible.”
In today’s digital age, the National Archives and Records Administration must fulfill its mission not only in the research rooms, regional archives, and presidential libraries, but also in cyberspace. Through our website and creative use of social media tools, we can provide access to the records that document the actions of our government. This enables greater transparency, a crucial pillar of open government.
One of my favorite strategic planning quotes is from Wayne Gretzky. He said, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” A recent Morgan Stanley report on Internet trends, gives us a lot of data on where the puck will be and the direction in which we should be skating: mobile.
Mobile will be bigger than
desktop Internet in five years.
The Morgan Stanley report challenges us to look at statistics and where the future is headed.
Mobile Internet use is being adopted by users much faster than the adoption of desktop Internet.
The number of mobile users will likely surpass desktop Internet users in 2013.
Technology cycles tend to last ten years, and we’re about two years into a mobile Internet cycle.
The expectation is now 24 x 7 access to everything from the palm of your hand.
Since my days at MIT, I’ve been an avid reader of Technology Review. One of their ten emerging technologies for 2010 is mobile 3-D. Seemingly futuristic technology is now closer than ever to being in the palm of your hand.
What do these trends mean for the National Archives and Records Administration?
The cornerstone of the work we do every day is the belief that citizens have the right to see, examine, and learn from the records that … [ Read all ]
Have you heard the news? This week, the Library of Congress announced that they are acquiring the digital archive of public tweets. On April 14, @librarycongress tweeted, “Library to acquire ENTIRE Twitter archives — All public tweets, ever, since March 2006!” Congratulations, Library of Congress.
In the world of electronic records, this is a historic announcement. In my first post, I said “electronic records are now a fundamental part of our documentary record.” The donation of billions of tweets to the Library of Congress is a profound example of the changing fabric of our records.
You might wonder why the National Archives did not acquire the tweets. Our primary purpose is to acquire, preserve, and make available for research the most valuable records of the Federal Government. Because tweets aren’t government records (although tweets of federal agencies can be), the Twitter archive is much better served by the Library of Congress as a cultural institution. At the National Archives, we are working with over 250 Federal agencies and their components to identify and schedule Federal records, some of these most certainly are tweets. Our records appraisal process identifies those records that are valuable enough to be permanently preserved.
There’s a common misconception that the National Archives and Records Administration and the Library of Congress are one in the same. This probably stems from the fact … [ Read all ]
The Pew Research Center recently published a report, “The Impact of the Internet on Institutions in the Future,” in which it found that 72 percent of experts agreed with the statement:
By 2020, innovative forms of online cooperation will result in significantly more efficient and responsive governments, business, non-profits, and other mainstream institutions.
That optimism agreed to by the experts indicates their belief that the internet will prompt institutional change, but is contrasted with the same experts’ concerns that:
Government agencies are cumbersome and resistant to change. The pace of progress towards openness and responsiveness will be slower than anyone would hope.
In my first few months on the job, I’ve seen some resistance to change, but that has been outmatched by what I see as a wellspring of enthusiasm for changes to our agency. One aspect of my job is to uncover and unleash talent across the agency. I am happy to say that I’ve already seen the passion of our staff and I know we can change our course and exceed expectations.
In this digital age, we have the opportunity to work and communicate more efficiently, effectively, and in completely new ways. This will require a change not only in our processes, but also in the culture of the National Archives and Records Administration. Working on the Open Government Plan (PDF) has helped … [ Read all ]
We have provided links to other websites because they have information that may interest you. Links are not an endorsement by the National Archives of the opinions, products, or services presented on these sites, or any sites linked to it. The National Archives is not responsible for the legality or accuracy of information on these sites, or for any costs incurred while using these sites.